GLOBAL MARKETS-Global stock markets gain on China trade data; sterling up

Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:43pm EST

* China January export and import data ease growth worries

* U.S. stocks slip after 4 days of gains as P&G falls

* U.S. bond prices down a day after Washington debt deal

* Sterling rises as BoE hints at rate hike in 2015

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK, Feb 12 (Reuters) - World stock markets edged up for a sixth straight session on Wednesday after upbeat trade data from China soothed worries about slower global growth, while the British pound rose to a two-week high against the dollar.

U.S. stocks dipped, however, pressured by a decline in Procter & Gamble after the company, the world's consumer products maker, cut its outlook for profit and sales growth.

The Chinese trade data showed solid demand, with exports rising in January, easing fears that the world's second-largest economy is mired in a worsening slowdown and reviving investors' appetite for emerging market assets that had been battered in recent weeks.

The broad MSCI All-Country World Index was up 0.2 percent and was on track to post its longest winning run in five months, while the FTSEurofirst 300 index ended up 0.7 percent. Europe is one of China's largest trading partners.

MSCI's index of emerging market stocks added 0.8 percent , extending a bounce from five-month lows hit earlier this month. The Australian dollar also rose on the prospect of stronger demand from China, Australia's largest export market.

"Emerging markets look like they're beginning to find their footing. I believe we're back to viewing the global economy being in a glass-half-full expansion," said Eric Teal, chief investment officer at First Citizens Bancshares Inc. in Raleigh, North Carolina, which manages $3.5 billion.

On Wall Street, stocks dipped after four sessions of gains. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 40.14 points or 0.25 percent, to 15,954.63; the S&P 500 lost 1.71 points or 0.09 percent, to 1,818.04; and the Nasdaq Composite added 6.101 points, or 0.15 percent, to 4,197.146.

Procter & Gamble lost 1.7 percent to $77.47 and weighed on both the Dow and S&P 500 after the company cut its sales and earnings outlook for the year to reflect unfavorable foreign exchange rates in Venezuela and the devaluation of currencies in various developing markets.

The lackluster move in U.S. stocks followed a rally on Tuesday after the U.S. House of Representatives voted to suspend the debt limit until March 2015 and the Federal Reserve's new chief, Janet Yellen, held off from making any changes to the central bank's schedule for trimming stimulus.

The debt ceiling deal pressured U.S. bond prices on Wednesday, though. The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell 14/32 in price to yield 2.7663 percent, the highest level since Jan. 29.

"Overall, there's less uncertainty," said David Coard, head of fixed income sales and trading at Williams Capital Group in New York. "I know that the debt ceiling resolution had a negative effect on the bills, but it had a positive effect on the longer end. So it all came together to see the sell-off that we're seeing."

BANK OF ENGLAND BOOSTS GROWTH FORECAST

The Bank of England indicated that interest rates may need to rise in just over a year and lifted its growth forecast, sending the pound up against the dollar and the euro .

"The BoE seems to become the first major central bank, bar the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, to hike interest rates," said Chris Turner, chief currency strategist at ING. "We are expecting a rate hike in February 2015, so in the short term sterling looks good, especially against the euro."

Sterling jumped to a two-week high of $1.6595, up 0.9 percent on the day.

In commodities markets, gold prices hit three-month highs on technical factors. Spot gold rebounded from earlier losses to hit a three-month high of $1,295.20 an ounce. It was last up 0.2 percent to $1,293.55.

Brent crude rose, helped by expectations of strengthening global demand as OPEC raised its 2014 forecast and following the Chinese data.

Brent crude gained 11 cents to settle at $108.79 a barrel, while U.S. crude oil rose 43 cents to settle at $100.37.

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